Students of American religious history have long been aware that, at least until recently, the field has been riddled with four yawning gaps—eras that cried out for solid synthetic treatments. Those gaps are (in reverse chronological order) religion during the Great Depression, religion and the Civil War, religion during the Revolutionary era and religion during the Great Awakening.
Lists of the "best of" are inevitably somewhat arbitrary, reflecting individual views of what "best" might mean. Not surprisingly, the eight theologians we asked to name five essential theology books of the past 25 years came up with very different titles.
I have returned again and again to Letters and Papers in search of insight into what it means to do
theology today, especially in my own South African context. Whether my
interest and inquiry has focused on theological issues, on the renewal
of the church and its public responsibility or on history, literature,
art and aesthetics, this remarkable collection has always provided much practical wisdom for people living in tough and
When the late Brenning Manning was ordained a priest, his spiritual director, Larry Hine, offered Manning this blessing (quoted in Fail by J. R. Briggs, IVP): May all of your expectations be frustrated, / May all of your plans be thwarted, / May all of your desires be withered into nothingness, / That you may experience the powerlessness and poverty of a child and can sing and dance in the love of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.